OxfordVR Technology a World First Success in Automating Psychological Therapy Using Virtual Reality (VR)

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#digitaltherapeutics–OxfordVR has successfully automated psychological therapy in VR for patients with mental illness. Users are guided by a virtual coach instead of a real-life therapist, allowing the treatment to reach many more patients. It is the first time a digital therapeutic of any kind has successfully been shown to help patients with schizophrenia and mood disorders with psychotic symptoms.

The technology, called gameChangeVRTM is a 6 week, automated, VR treatment that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) inside safe, immersive, virtual scenarios. In the largest ever clinical trial of VR for mental health published today in The Lancet Psychiatry, gameChange was shown to help patients with schizophrenia and mood disorders with psychotic symptoms who suffer anxiety and distress in everyday situations. The VR treatment reduced avoidance and distress, improved paranoia and enhanced quality of life when used in conjunction to standard of care drug therapy. The biggest benefits were experienced by those with the most challenging psychological problems. Patients used the VR in the comfort of their own homes, or at their local mental health clinic.

gameChange can practically scale clinical outcomes far beyond what was thought possible even 5 years ago, effectively offering the ability to treat millions of patients with severe forms of mental illness,” says OxfordVR CEO, Deepak Gopalakrishna.

Access to effective psychological therapies has been hampered by a shortage of clinicians. The problem is especially acute for people with severe mental health difficulties. Automated VR offers an innovative and effective way out of this impasse. Therapies are implemented consistently and outcomes replicable, scalable and rapid. gameChange results are delivered in just 6 weeks, with one 30 min VR session per week, compared to standard treatment durations for traditional CBT of 60 mins a week for 16+ weeks.

OxfordVR Chief Commercial Officer, Mike Desjadon says:The State of the Union set a national goal to drive mental health parity with physical health, but with only 30 psychologists for every 100,000 Americans resources are already tapped out. Evidence based technologies must play a role in bridging the gap, and the gameChange trial proved that they can.”

gameChange was developed by a multi-partner collaboration between OxfordVR, the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to target the intense fears associated with everyday situations suffered by patients with mental health disorders. For many patients, these fears develop into an inability to leave home, severely disrupting relationships with family and friends; education, and careers. gameChange is designed to help patients re-engage with these activities.

Patients who benefitted most significantly were those with the most acute psychiatric symptoms, such as severe anxiety, depression, delusions, and hallucinations. These patients experienced lasting benefits that were maintained at the six-month follow-up. Patient feedback showed that the treatment was very popular, with 90% engagement rates.

We are delighted that gameChange has produced excellent results for people with some of the most challenging mental health problems. Individuals who were largely housebound have got back outside. Using today’s affordable and easy-to-use consumer VR equipment, we think gameChange will lead a transformation in the digital provision of evidence-based psychological therapy, with deployment at scale for treatments that really work.” OxfordVR scientific co-founder, Professor Daniel Freeman (lead researcher, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford).

About OxfordVR

OxfordVR is a digital therapeutics company that develops evidence-based immersive treatments using virtual reality for serious mental illness. Our treatments are reshaping the future of mental healthcare, fusing deep scientific evidence with emerging technology to create powerful new therapeutic tools for some of the world’s most challenging mental health conditions. OxfordVR is dedicated to improving world class access to mental health, automating gold-standard treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). www.ovrhealth.com

About gameChange

gameChange was designed in collaboration with people with lived experience of psychosis and over five hundred hours of patient feedback, facilitated by the McPin Foundation, a mental health research charity that champions lived experience in research. Over six sessions comprising three hours in VR, users practice being in simulations of everyday situations: a café, shop, pub, street, doctor’s surgery, and a bus. Treatment is personalized: patients can choose what they work on and when, and find the “sweet spot” of safety and challenge in order to overcome their fears. www.gamechangevr.com

gameChange is the largest ever clinical trial of VR for mental health with 346 patients with psychosis in nine NHS Trusts across five English regions – Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Oxford. Results from the trial were published today in The Lancet Psychiatry: “Automated virtual reality therapy to treat agoraphobic avoidance and distress in patients with psychosis (gameChange): a multicenter, parallel-group, single-blind, randomized, controlled trial in England with mediation and moderation analyses.”


Meredith Good-Cohn

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